Beating on a team from Texas for a second straight week, this time with a 33-25 over Houston and another big game for quarterback Taysom Hill, BYU find themselves looking more and more like a team that could go through this season undefeated, which would make things very interesting for the College Football Playoffs committee considering they’re not a power conference member.
Hill finished with 360 yards (200 passing, 160 rushing) and two touchdowns, one by arm and another with his feet, to lead the Cougars over another team from Texas who also happen to be Cougars themselves. He rushed for 1344 yards last season, and is on pace to reach those numbers again, rushing for 356 yards through the first three games of the season, leading BYU to a 3-0 record after beating Houston, Texas and UConn.
Unlike their incredibly dominant performance at Austin, BYU’s home opener for this season in front of more than 63,000 wasn’t so easy. They did run off to a 23-0 lead by the early goings of the first quarter and held a 33-15 lead in the fourth quarter, but Houston are a gunslinging team, which is always dangerous. Some wild passes and quick decisions from John O’Korn, finishing with 307 yards and three passing touchdowns, including a throw that traveled over 50 yards in the air to end the half, made it a very close game in the final seven minutes.
But after scoring a field goal that made it a one possession game with 7:36 left in the fourth quarter, BYU chewed up the clock nicely and once again had their defense step up to make it a very short final drive from Houston, managing just three plays and 0 yards from their own 12-yard line before punting, pretty much giving up on winning the game. Not having any sort of running game (10 yards on 13 carries) was a big part in that. They’re ranked 116th in the nation in yards per game on the ground.
BYU ran the ball, and not just with Hill, and then ran some more. Jamaal Williams gained 139 yards on 28 carries and scored two touchdowns. Hill himself finished with 160, as we mentioned above, and became the first quarterback this season to finish with 200 yards passing and more than 150 rushing yards in a single game, something that occurred just five times last season. They finished with a total of 323 rushing yards, including 165 in-between tackles.
Hill is a sleeper Heisman pick. His scrambling made things easier for BYU, and he kept extending plays with his feet. He scrambled 13 times for 114 yards, including four for 10 yards or more. He’s not playing for a school that gets a lot of publicity, but if BYU keep going forward without any hiccups along the way, it’s going to be very difficult to ignore what he is doing.
So how far fetched is it that BYU are in the playoff consideration? Obviously, it depends on how well the best teams from the power conferences do. If they won’t be the only undefeated team in the nation by the end of November, odds will be stacked against them. However, considering their schedule and according to ESPN’s Power Index, they have the best chances of all teams in the FBS to win out (21%), with their toughest game in theory being Boise State on the road on a late October Friday. It’s usually the ones you least expect that get you.